Julia Child was a regular customer of our fish market in Cambridge, and quickly became friends with my father and, subsequently, yours truly. She lived in the neighborhood and would buy seafood for use at home and to cook on her show.
I have many fond memories of Julia pulling up in front of our market in her beige Volkswagen Beetle adorned with a spatula wired to the radio antenna. (This homemade tracking device made sure she could identify her car wherever it was parked.)
Paving the way for chefs around the world
One day, she encouraged me to go out to her car to say hello to her friend Jimmy who was waiting in the passenger seat. Dutifully, I went out to the car to say hi to this "Jimmy," who turned out to be none other than James Beard. It was one of the great thrills of my life.
I firmly believe that Julia launched the renaissance of seafood consumption in this country, beginning in the early 1960s. Prior to the time of her groundbreaking PBS show, "The French Chef," seafood was hardly the protein of choice. You ate it usually for one of two reasons: it was inexpensive, or you were religious (and only ate fish on Fridays and during Lent).
She introduced an ocean of seafood recipes
Along comes Julia and her cooking show and, overnight it seemed, seafood's popularity soared. She was able to convince a new generation of Americans not only how easy it was to cook various fish, but how good it could taste, too. Her celebrity grew over the years and, along with it, a greater appreciation and use of quality products that excited both home cooks and chefs.
It's only fitting that her popularity has endured. To me and my family, Julia was a friend, a confidant, an arbiter of taste, and one of our most vocal supporters.